And yet, when bedtime rolls around they behave like it's a brand new concept. Go to bed?! WHAT?! But I don't want to go to bed! I want to stay up! Why do I have to go to bed? And on and on and on.
(And for the record, my children behave this way about numerous things that happen multiple times a day. Like washing their hands after going to the bathroom and finishing their vegetables and brushing their teeth.)
Last summer we struggled a lot with bedtimes. We came up with a plan that worked, for a time. Then the kids got better about going to bed and we stopped making them write lines.
Then, slowly, over the last couple of months, my children have gone crazy. We have the same bedtime routine that we've had since they were babies. We still use the getting ready charts from last summer. But for some reason they keep getting out of their beds after we tuck them in. And they cry, and whine, and come out again, and again, and again.
About two weeks ago I came up with a plan. (I got the idea from my SIL. There is nothing new under the sun.) I was so excited about the plan that I didn't tell anybody. Well, I told the kids, and my husband. But, I didn't write about it. I didn't put it on facebook. I just implemented it and waited.
AND IT WORKED!!!
And it has been working very successfully for nearly TWO WEEKS!!
So, here it is. Read it. Use it. Be amazed.
This is the quick version. The kids and I came up with a list of five privileges. Each time they come out of their room after we've tucked them in they lose one privilege for the next day.
Here's the longer version with more details.
I sat down with my kids and we came up with a list of privileges.
- 15 minutes of computer time
- 15 minutes of Leapster time
- Legos/Polly Pockets
- Free time
These five privileges are specific to my family. My kids are not allowed to watch TV on school nights, so that couldn't be one. They were not getting computer time on a regular basis before this so that was a great one. They were playing Leapsters for more than 15 minutes at a time and I wanted to cut back. We don't always get dessert after dinner but they generally get something sweet in their lunch. Christopher's favorite toy is Legos and Hannah's is Polly Pockets. The loss of free time is my way of saying, "If you come out of your room FIVE times after I tuck you in then the next day after homework you will go to your room until dinner." (About an hour.)
The order is specific too. Most desired to least.
And, none of these privileges hurt ME when I take them away. My life isn't any harder if they only get fruit and a sandwich in their lunch. My job isn't any more difficult if the Leapsters are on the top shelf.
I explained the rules. They have to do everything on their chart and then stay in their bed. No coming out for another drink, another bandaid an ice pack or even to go to the bathroom. I know, that one may not work for everyone but my kids can pee every four minutes for hours if I let them. (And if they wake up in the middle of the night they are absolutely allowed to go to the bathroom.)
The first night they both came out three times. But the previous many weeks they were coming out six, eight even ten times.
There was no yelling, spanking, threatening, or crying (by me). There was crying by them. I ignored it.
Each time they came out I said some version of, "Bummer. No _______ for you tomorrow."
The second morning both kids came running downstairs yelling, "WE DID IT!! WE STAYED IN OUR BEDS!!" And they were so proud.
After that first night they both have been staying in their beds and, for the most part, not coming out at all. Every couple of days one of them will lose one or two privileges. The two times that snacks have been taken away I've made sure to serve dessert after dinner. When one of them loses computer time I make sure the other one plays in full view.
So, this is our plan. We're going to stick with it for a while. I really like it because there is no punishment involved. No one gets yelled at. I stay calm. I don't have to remember to give out stickers or make them write lines.
Here's the chart we're using. I printed it out, laminated it and hung it in the hallway by their bedrooms. I didn't make it cute and colorful because discipline is supposed to be serious (right?). There is a mini clothes pin for each of them that gets moved down if they lose a privilege.
UPDATED: The night I posted this both of my kids were up out of their beds FOUR times! Just keeping me humble, ya know? But, it's still less than eight. They were both very disappointed to lose so many privileges and the following night they didn't come out at all. We're going on three weeks now and this is still the best tool we've used.
UPDATED: Many of you have asked for similar plans for toddlers. I'm still thinking on that one. I know my kids didn't understand delayed consequences when they were little. I'd say three-and-a-half is probably the youngest, but you know your kid.
I think that's it. I'd love to hear your comments.